“Let the winds of doctrine blow me.” (Milton)
By DAVID NOWAK, Associated Press Writer
MOSCOW – A new law drafted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s Cabinet would allow authorities to label any government critic a traitor — a move that leading rights activists condemned Wednesday as a chilling reminder of the times under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
The draft extends the definition of treason from breaching Russia‘s external security to damaging the nation’s constitutional order, sovereignty or territorial integrity. That would essentially let authorities interpret any act against the interests of the state as treason — a crime prosecutable by up to 20 years in prison.
Prominent rights activists said passage of the bill would catapult Russia’s justice system back to the times of Stalin’s purges.
“It returns the Russian justice to the times of 1920-1950s,” the activists said in a statement, urging lawmakers to oppose what they described as the “legislation in the spirit of Stalin and Hitler.”